Saturday, May 20, 2006

On Planting and Harvesting

I had a conversation with a friend of mine a couple of days back. My friend was getting discouraged about doing some good things that involved being especially nice to folks and not really seeing much back in return.

It prompted me to go on a bit of a rant.

Planting and Harvesting

I'm sure most you have heard of the principle of planting and harvesting (sometimes called sowing and reaping by the old schoolers out there). It seems to be a universal principle that you will always harvest what you plant in time.

The principle obviously works in agriculture. You can’t plant corn seed in a field and harvest wheat after those seeds mature. To get wheat, you have to plat wheat.

The Bible says it this way:
“Don't be misled. Remember that you can't ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow!”
And the principle holds true in other realms too. Down in Jacksonville last night (actually I guess it was this morning) one of the guys in the office had John Tesh on the radio. John was talking about some study or other that showed people who were generally nice and had senses of humor tended to be healthier overall than people who worried and were selfish.

Sure the results of the study may seem obvious. But this is another example of the planting/harvesting principle. If you are friendly, then most people will be friendly back to you. Doing nice things for others lowers your stress levels and helps you stay healthier.

And while it’s true that you will harvest what you plant in time, the challenges of the principle are twofold.

First, people tend to want to leave of the "in time" part of the equation. They forget that the farmer has to wait along time after he plants his crop, time spent working like a dog tending his fields, before he finally gets to the harvest. They think the principle is invalid if they don't harvest as soon as they get the seed covered with dirt. How silly!

Here’s a Bible’s take on that one:
So don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.
Another thing that is true about the life principle of planting and harvesting, and this is much less obvious, is that you often don't harvest from the same fields that you planted in.

For example, I have helped bunches of my friends move. And, as a result of the planting/harvesting principle, whenever I've moved I have always had plenty of help lifting furniture. But it is rarely the same people helping as I helped, mostly because one of us isn't in the same spot because we've moved!

I shouldn't be frustrated with Jim-Bob because he didn't personally return the favor to me. The help will still come, just from another quarter.

It’ll come because the planting/harvesting principle still holds. What goes around comes around, eventually.

The last thing I want to point out about the planting/harvesting principle is that the size of your harvest is directly related to how much seed you plant.

Once again I go back to what the Bible says on the subject:
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
A Recap

What do we know about the principle of planting and harvesting?

  • The principle is universal (even if you don’t believe it!)

  • The harvest takes time to appear

  • The harvest often comes from a different field than the seed was planted in

  • The size of the harvest is directly related to the amount of seed planted.

That about sums it up.

Choose your seed well. Plant lots of it. Be patient. And expect the harvest because it is coming!


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